'Designated Survivor' May Be Revived at Netflix After ABC Cancellation

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Sources say talks are underway for a potential third season — with its fifth showrunner.

Days after ABC surprisingly canceled Designated Survivor, the Kiefer Sutherland starrer may be the latest series to be revived.

Sources say Netflix, which is the international SVOD home for the Entertainment One drama, is mulling a potential third season for the drama. Sources note a deal is still far from done as the series is an expensive undertaking and streaming rights with Hulu — which has the series in the U.S. rights to the first two seasons — would still have to be sorted out.

At the time of its cancellation, Designated Survivor was in talks with a new showrunner to take over the series. That would have been the fifth showrunner to take over the series. Sources say that should Netflix revive the series, the new showrunner would replace

Keith Eisner (The Good Wife) in the top behind the scenes post.

During a Tuesday press call with reporters, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey noted that the Disney-owned network had creative concerns about the series as the primary reason for its cancellation. “The show had a lot of behind-the-scenes churn with the number of showrunners,” Dungey noted of the drama, which burned through four showrunners in two seasons.

Amy B. Harris (The Carrie DiariesWicked City) was originally tapped to serve as showrunner on the drama created by David Guggenheim. After boarding Designated Survivor ahead of the pilot, Harris was replaced when the showscored its official series pickup as part of a change in direction. She was replaced by Jon Harmon Feldman (Blood & OilNo Ordinary Family), who helped launch the ABC Studios and Mark Gordon Co. co-production with eOne to decent reviews and impressive ratings (including DVR records) ahead of its full-season pickup. Feldman left last December for an overall deal with ABC Studios. Feldman was replaced by Jeff Melvoin (Army Wives) in December 2016. Eisner replaced Melvoin in April 2017.

Logistically, Designated Survivor is a difficult show. Production takes place in Toronto, the writers room is in Los Angeles and Guggenheim is based in New York. Sutherland, who exec produces the series, is highly involved in the show’s creative and effectively does a pass on each script before it is finalized alongside Guggenheim. The series is the first to come out of Gordon’s independent banner outside of ABC Studios, with the latter set as the lead producer on the show. 

While not a ratings or critical breakout, Designated Survivor was a profitable show for ABC thanks in part to its lucrative Netflix SVOD deal and strong international sales. 

Should Netflix close a deal for the drama, Designated Survivor would become the third canceled series to find another home after NBC rescued Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fox revived Last Man Standing a year after ABC’s cancellation. (In the latter two cases, NBC and Fox’s studio counterparts own the shows.)

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR’s scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBCand The CWand with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.


Designated Survivor

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